If you are in the sales development business, you probably spend most of your day targeting obvious decision-makers like CEO’s, COO’s, CMOs, CTO’s, VP Marketing, and more. If you’re selling into enterprise-sized companies, you may be seriously missing the boat. People with standard titles like those mentioned are being targeted by every other company trying to sell something. They are the people most likely to end up in lists of contacts for sale which your competitors and perhaps even you have bought. They’re busy and don’t have time to take your call or read your cold email. The good news is that there are other people in the organization who can help you get in the door faster and easier.
As an example, let’s say your company helps organizations going through mergers or acquisitions rebrand all their real-world branded touchpoints. You’ve helped banks rebrand newly acquired branches, including objects like interior and exterior signage and mobile banking centers. You also happen to have expertise in fleet graphics.
You learn that a bank is acquiring another bank and you want to find the person responsible for coming up with the plan for getting the acquired bank’s assets rebranded once the deal is signed. You’re probably going to target the CEO, CMO, VP Marketing and VP Retail Banking. They may not be the actual decision-maker, but they certainly will know who is.
The problem is that everyone else who is trying to sell something to that bank is also targeting these people. Their voicemail is full. Their email inboxes are full. They have “new message fatigue” and they don’t have the bandwidth to even listen to your pitch. That doesn’t mean you won’t get through — eventually — but sometimes there is an easier way.
One of the miracles of the social selling paradigm is that professionals will put details of their daily lives on sites like LinkedIn. They’re waiting for you to find them, read their profiles and understand what they do. I was helping a client identify prospects to target at the bank described above and by doing a keyword search for “brand” (instead of the standard title search) I found a VP in corporate bank operations who was responsible, according to his LinkedIn profile, for their mobile banking courier service, and he described in his profile how this service marketed the bank’s brand as the vehicles drove all over town.
Because of his expressed understanding of branding in the bank’s operations, it’s safe to assume that this is someone who is going to know who the decision-maker is when the acquisition contract is signed and he’s going to be particularly in tune with your experience keeping fleet brand-compliant. At his level of the organization, he’s going to be a busy guy, but because his title is not one of those most commonly targeted by sales reps and business development professionals, he probably gets fewer cold calls and cold emails and he’s going to be more responsive if you approach him with a meaningful message.
My experience tells me it will take about a quarter of the effort to get this kind of contact to tell you who the decision-maker is than someone who is being approached by everyone else with something to sell. He might even be willing to refer you to the right person and give you a head start. Then you’re off to the races.